From Day 1, Mike Anderson hasn’t bought into the narrative. He’s corrected reporters, frequently said, unprompted, that St. John’s isn’t a two-man team.
Even when LJ Figueroa and Mustapha Heron have played well in the same game, a rare occurrence of late, the new Red Storm coach has reminded everyone the Johnnies are more than their two stars.
Perhaps he wants his players to hear it. Possibly, he really believes it. Either way, eight games into his first season in Queens, it’s becoming a reality.
Saturday afternoon was just the latest example.
Six days after the supporting cast keyed a come-from-behind victory over UMass, they were at it again, carrying St. John’s to an 86-63 rout of Wagner.
With Figueroa unable to throw the ball in the ocean — he missed his first seven shots — and the previously struggling Heron (18 points) saddled with foul trouble after a hot start, Anderson looked elsewhere. He was again rewarded by a complete effort from the players who were supposed to be background dancers for Heron and Figueroa, the preseason second team All-Big East selections.
Sophomore forward Josh Roberts again led the charge, continuing to produce at a far faster rate than anyone could’ve expected after spending most of his freshman year on the bench. He controlled the paint and nearly finished with his first career double-double, scoring 12 points and grabbing nine rebounds.
Rasheem Dunn, the St. Francis Brooklyn transfer, scored 14 points off the bench. Freshman Julian Champagnie reached double figures (12) for the fourth straight game. Building off his stellar performance against UMass, Nick Rutherford notched seven points, three assists and two steals while defending at a high level, setting the pace and creating easy chances for his teammates.
When the season began, the expectation was Heron and Figueroa had to excel if St. John’s (6-2) was going to overachieve. The two still draw all the attention from opposing teams, and the Red Storm will likely struggle once the Big East season begins when the two have off nights. But there is clearly more to this team than them. Just look at St. John’s last two victories.
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